Michelle Baldini recently launched Healthful Seasons, a 100% women-owned company founded on the principle of women supporting women. Baldini found inspiration for the company after going through the transitional phases of womanhood—from menses to peri-menopause and now menopause. Her friends were experiencing the same struggles and she found solace as a mentee and being a mentor to other women. When she identified a significant gap in the natural health sector for products that spoke to the needs of women throughout their lifespan, Baldini put her graduate degree in Information Science to use by researching supplements that would enhance the quality of women’s lives. She then worked with experienced formulators and an FDA-registered facility to create and share what is now a full line of health, beauty, and self-care products.
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Thank you so much for giving us your time! Before we begin, could you introduce yourself to our readers and take us through what exactly your company does and what your vision is for its future?
Michelle Baldini: I’d love to and thank you for inviting me.
Introduce myself…hmm…Who am I? Well, this is the Zillion dollar question, right? I’m many things. Like most women, I wear a lot of hats and I’ve evolved over time. I have experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly of life, and I now embrace and cherish the mundane. I am a human first, a woman, a wife, a mother/mother-in-law, grandmother, daughter/daughter-in-law, sister, aunt, niece, friend, teacher/author/colleague, and so on. Although today my plate is full and beautiful, I struggle with overwhelming highs and lows of hormones. It’s hard to keep it all together sometimes and when menopause hit, there were times I felt like I was in a pit of tar so deep I could hardly breathe. Deep sadness would overtake my body‒like a screen of darkness slowly being pulled over my eyes. All the dirtiness of my past haunted me. But why now? I had reached a point in my life where I had everything I had ever wanted: a beautiful, happy family; a nice home with nice things; a career; amazing friends and the list goes on.
I wondered how many women out there were struggling like me‒women with families, friends, jobs. I thought about what my father-in-law always said to me: “You’re the engine of the family. If you’re down, no one is pulling the train.”
I knew I had to do something to help myself and I wondered about the many women who were going through the same hormonal battle. Personally, I wanted to try to manage menopause naturally, rather than go through hormone therapy. I had always believed in natural alternatives, natural supplements and I took them even when it wasn’t a fad. So, I began to research and trial natural supplements to see if anything might work for me.
Since then, the desire to help myself and others has been the constant drive that keeps me going. My search for the best natural supplements started from my personal struggles, but it continues with shared friendships.
I founded Healthful Seasons, LLC to help other women and I brought in one of my closest friends, Labor and Delivery Nurse, Susan DiFeo, and a high-performing researcher from the School of Information at Kent State University, Kayla Hlad, MLIS. We work together with experienced formulators to develop the highest quality products that will help all women in different stages of their lives, and we will continue to develop new products in the future. It takes time to create proprietary blends that are the type of quality we can trust to take ourselves and to recommend to family and friends. There are products currently being developed in the lab as we speak, and we are excited at the opportunity to launch more. Another goal of ours is to offer resources to women through our blog (Healthfulseasons.com/blog/news) and Healthful Tips (@healthfulseasons on social media). We didn’t want the business to be just about women buying our products. We want to make sure that even if you’re not interested in our products, maybe you’ll find something that’s beneficial to you.
So, that’s who I am in a nutshell. I suppose, like many women, I am many things‒too much to put into one interview, but I’ll continue to explore this question openly and honestly on our blog as we work hard researching, developing, and offering the best products for women. That’s what my vision is for the future—to continue to work hard, with the understanding that I might be helping someone.
NO child ever says I want to be a CEO/entrepreneur when I grow up. What did you want to be and how did you get where you are today?
Michelle Baldini: Wow. These are some deep questions. You’re right, I didn’t think, “Hey, I want to grow up to become an owner of a company.” To be honest, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I grew up fast, really. With the kind of childhood I had, you are forced to grow up with some street smarts. That doesn’t mean I didn’t make stupid mistakes because, believe me, I did.
When I hit 50, I had a great urge to make a difference in the world, even in my small way. I think I had reached a point in my career where I didn’t feel ethically satisfied. Since my hormones were thrashing me back and forth like a rubber band punching balloon about to pop, I couldn’t help but wonder how other women in less supportive environments were feeling. I had experienced hopeless feelings in grim circumstances, and I wondered if I had now been so far out of reach from that world that I wasn’t giving back. One thing I knew was that I cared deeply about the quality of women’s and children’s lives.
So, I made the decision to only collaborate with those who had a shared interest. On a personal level, I began developing products for women, teamed up with my friend, Susan DiFeo, and then Superstar, Kayla Hlad. Over the last three years, we’ve focused on product development, research, and blogging. I still have my day job working at Kent State’s School of Information, because I love what I do there, too. Since I’m the director of the Reinberger Children’s Library Center, a collection of special collections related to children’s resources and youth services, I’m positioned to make a difference with children and college students.
I mentor our students and I am working on projects that help better the lives of children. Recently, a colleague of mine and I were awarded a grant called, SHIELD, which stands for Supporting Healthy Infant Early Learning and Development. So, somehow, I have reached a point in my life where I am finally working on what I am most passionate about—women and children. I never dreamed that point would have involved owning a company, but it’s where this winding road of life and passion has led me.
Tell us something about yourself that others in your organization might be surprised to know.
Michelle Baldini: I try to be pretty transparent, but I would have to say that most probably don’t know that I’ve ridden in rodeos, swam in canals with snakes and alligators, broke and assisted with gelding horses. There’s more, but yes…this would shock the people I know.
Many readers may wonder how to become an entrepreneur but what is an entrepreneur? How would you define it?
Michelle Baldini: Entrepreneurs are people who are fueled by the desire to share their interests‒whether a product or service‒with the world. If you have a passion for, say…moose droppings, like Mary Winchenbach of Turdy Works, you’ll find a way to make it happen. It really doesn’t matter what it is, all you need is a passion for something and then you need to translate this enthusiasm for your product(s)/service onto the customers.
What is the importance of having a supportive and inclusive culture?
Michelle Baldini: A supportive and inclusive culture begins with understanding intersectionality, which basically means that society puts all of us into many different overlapping social categories based on identities (many of which are beyond our control) like race, gender, sexual preference, or income level. As a result, we all may experience different levels of discrimination and unfair treatment to the point of being marginalized in extreme and less extreme circumstances. It’s important to understand this because feeling supported and included is the key to feeling like you’re a part of something, to feel connected to a mission or a purpose, and to feeling daring enough‒accepted enough‒to speak up with that edit, or new idea, or concern. A supportive and inclusive culture is foundational to innovation in the workplace and to a true connection with our customers and their needs.
How can a leader be disruptive in the post covid world?
Michelle Baldini: As I write this I’m sitting in my pajamas sipping on some green tea. When I am writing and working on my computer, I work best from home. It’s where I’m comfortable and most productive. If I choose, I can get up and do some yoga in the middle of the day, walk to my kitchen and make myself something healthy to eat, throw in a load of laundry so I don’t have to do it at night and I can spend time with my family instead. I can also choose to make up some of my missed work at all hours of the night if I choose. This would have been the ideal situation for me when I was raising young children. The stress of being “on the clock” from 8-5 and then running home to make dinner, do homework, run my kids to activities, get them ready for school the next day and myself ready for work was hard.
A leader can be disruptive in the post-Covid world by getting rid of the pre-Covid antiquated work environments. Post-Covid has changed the way many employees view their jobs and the way many employers view expectations of their employees. Many have found that their employees do not need to be in an office or stuck in a cubicle to get the work done. Employers who give autonomy and flexibility to their loyal and trusted employees might find an increase in production and a better work attitude. Not to mention the fact that there are benefits to companies allowing their employees to work part or full-time from home. I like to first think of the best benefit, which is the mental and physical health of your employees. Wouldn’t lower health premiums be a benefit to companies who share the cost? And, of course, my first thought is the working moms, who, for the most part, handle the household and kid activities. But there are also the global environmental improvements in air and water quality that we witnessed during COVID. This can only be healthier for the future of our children.
Of course, there is the social aspect of working together that is super important. There has to be a balance between this and an employee-employer agreement. Some people feel depressed when they work from home and as an employer you never want this to happen to the people you care about. Open communication and understanding the needs of your employees will help them meet the needs of the company.
If a 5-year-old asked you to describe your job, what would you tell them?
Michelle Baldini: We all want to look and feel our best. But when midlife women look for products that can speak to their needs and desires‒they find a huge gap. Many health and beauty companies don’t see women beyond 25. They don’t see or appreciate their interests, needs, or vivacity. At Healthful Seasons, midlife is seen and celebrated‒for its ups and downs. Aging is actually an accomplishment and menopause is a natural part of women’s lives. Healthful Seasons is a self-care company rooted in the desire to share real experiences—failures, and successes—and a passion for helping all women feel happy, healthy, and well.
Our company, owned 100% by women, travels with the matriarchs of the world through adulthood‒through new milestones and new hormones, through achievements and struggles, through celebrations and breakdowns, and we lend a hand. We put these mothers, grandmothers, aunts, small business owners, colleagues, CEOs, and trusted friends first, sharing natural and practical health, wellness, and self-care solutions that keep the engine running‒by her, for her. Because we understand self-care and self-love are not passive and it’s not easy. It’s a constant fight that makes a difference in all the lives she touches.
We’re dedicated to providing quality products that improve the overall health and wellness of all women: her health, her body, her sexuality. We only sell what we believe in‒products that are tested and true. No gimmicks, no unrealistic claims of a cure-all. We hand-pick every single ingredient in our products based on unbiased scientific studies, our value of sustainability, and the years of wisdom of real women.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Michelle Baldini: Hiring a marketing team is a big investment for our new business. We made this choice, to reduce the workload on employees so they can focus their energies on product development and connecting with the needs of our customers. These types of investments show your employees that were invested in them and offer them the flexibility and creativity to experiment with new product development and better customer service.
Leaders are usually asked about their most useful qualities but let’s change things up a bit. What is your most useless talent?
Michelle Baldini: I am surprisingly good at drawing on an Etch-A-Sketch, but not so much with pencil and paper!
Thank you so much for your time but before we finish things off, we do have one more question. If you wrote a book about your life until today, what would the title be?
Michelle Baldini: ‘Flip-flops in the Snow’. I have a love for both and the combination describes me perfectly.
Larry Yatch, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Michelle Baldini for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Michelle Baldini or her company, you can do it through her – Facebook
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